This zucchini boats vegetarian recipe with crumbled paneer, Indian cottage cheese, (use vegan cottage cheese or scrambled tofu), spices and lemon is full of flavors, gluten-free and low carb. Serve it as a main with some tomato sauce and herbed salsa or serve it as a delectable starter - whichever way you serve it, this is a proper winner!
See recipe card for quantities.
- Zucchini / Courgettes: (of course!) I have used the smaller, light green ones for this recipe. You may use the regular (longer) ones and that will work well. You will need to adjust the quantity of stuffing if you do so (check notes below)
- Paneer: Use fresh paneer. Grate it or crumble it with your fingers.
- Zucchini flesh: This will add volume to the stuffing. Chop it up finely.
- Ginger: We need fresh root ginger for this recipe. Grate it or crush it using a pestle and mortar.
- Black pepper powder: Coarsely crushed - not too fine.
- Lime juice: Is tangier than lemon juice. You may use lemon juice instead. In that case, do add more of it as per taste.
Zucchini are healthy!
Zucchinis (Courgettes) belong to the family of cucumbers and melons. It is from the summer squash family.
This is a vegetable that I love dearly, both for its taste and its versatility. My pantry is never without this versatile vegetable!
And they are so good for your health too! Naturally low in calories, zucchini are a good source of fibre and are full of micronutrients.
Did you know that zucchini / courgettes are made up of 95% water! What an excellent way to rehydrate, especially in the hot summer months!
Read more about the goodness of zucchini.
Why this zucchini boats vegetarian recipe?
- The recipe requires less than 10 ingredients and these are all store cupboard ingredients!
- It may sound complicated, but it is not! From start to finish this dish is ready in under 45 minutes!
- For being so simple, this dish delivers such great taste! You will especially love the tang from the lemon juice.
- This dish is flexible and versatile. You can serve it in different ways (see serving suggestions below)
- Your child will find the shape interesting and love eating it.
- The dish is healthy! It is not only gluten free, but also low on carb. (see nutrition chart below)
- This dish has no onion and garlic.
What is your favourite Zucchini / Courgette recipe? Do let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
Step 1: Wash and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a sharp spoon or butter knife, scoop the flesh out gently. Be careful not to scoop too much out from the edges or poke holes in the skin. Finely chop the flesh and keep it aside. We will use this to make the stuffing - yay! a no-waste recipe☺️
Step 2: In a large pan, bring some water (just enough to immerse the courgette halves) to boil. When the water begins to boil well, add salt. Add the courgettes to the water and boil (uncovered) and cook them for not more than 2 minutes.
Be careful at this stage. Set a timer, if need be. Over cooking the courgettes will make them limp and they will not be able to hold their shape nor the stuffing.
We are boiling them for 2 reasons: 1) so that the salt seasons them and 2) to cut the cooking time in the oven.
Drain the zucchini and set them aside.
Step 3: To make the stuffing, heat oil in a pan. Add the chopped zucchini flesh and fry for about 30 seconds. Now add the spices and flavourings - salt, cumin powder, grated (or crushed) ginger and black pepper powder. Fry for another 30 seconds.
Step 4: Add the paneer (grated or crumbled) and mix well, gently. Fry for a minute more. Add the lime juice, mix and take off the heat.
Step 5: Divide the stuffing into 12 equal (ish) portions.
Step 6: Stuff each zucchini half with a portion of the stuffing.
Step 7: Place them in a oven proof dish and bake for 10 minutes at 400F (200C). Keep an eye on them - they can burn easily. They should be in the oven till the courgettes are soft and the paneer begins to change its colour to light brown.
Step 8: Turn off the oven and let the zucchini boats rest in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
Tips and notes
My girls love this dish and so it gets made on repeat on our household!
While this recipe is so easy and failproof, here are few things that you should take care of for best outcomes.
- Choose courgettes that are fresh, firm and tender. Since this recipe requires the courgettes to hold their shape when boiled and baked, it is important to have good quality courgettes.
- I have used the small courgettes for this recipe. If you want to use the regular longer courgettes, then you will need more stuffing (of course!).
- Alternatively, if you are using the long courgettes, use 3 courgettes (instead of 6 that I have used in this recipe). I think in that case the stuffing will be enough without having to make more of it.
- When boiling the courgette halves, do not over cook them. We just want them to be soft and half cooked - that's all. So do keep a timer set for 2 minutes and cook them in rapid rolling boiling water.
- Make sure that the paneer is fresh. Paneer that has kept for too long can become sour.
Substitutions and variations
Make it vegan: Substitute paneer with tofu or vegan cottage cheese to make this dish vegan.
Onion and garlic: I have made this recipe allium free. You can, of course add finely chopped onions and minced garlic to the recipe.
- Make it a delicious vegetarian main meal with some homemade tomato sauce and herbed salsa or chimichurri on the side.
- As a sensational starter on its own.
- Tea time snack or finger food
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Skin of zucchini is perfectly ok to eat. Make sure you wash them first though. Leaving the skin on will add fiber and more nutrition to the dish.
Absolutely! Just replace the paneer with tofu. or with vegan cottage cheese. The rest of the process if the same.
Of course you can! Your child will love the shape, the taste and the texture! I will not recommend this for children younger than 18 months, though. When feeding this to you toddler, cut each boat into 3 - 4 pieces.
If you have made this delicious zucchini boats vegetarian recipe, please take a moment to leave a comment and /or a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! xx Padma
Stuffed Zucchini Boats Vegetarian Recipe
- 1 Large Rice Pot
- 1 frying pan
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 sharp edged spoon / butter knife (to scoop the pulp out of the zucchini)
- 1 baking dish/ tray
For the zucchini
- 6 small zucchini (900 to 1000 grams)
- water (enough to immerse them)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons neutral or vegetable oil
- pulp from scooping the zucchini (250grams, approximately)
- 1 block paneer (200grams, approximately)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust as per taste)
- ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon oil
To serve (optional - use all, any)
- colorful cubed sweet peppers
- tomato sauce
- chimichurri sauce / herbed salsa
Prep the zucchini boats
- Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salt to it. The water should be enough to immerse the courgette halves comfortably.water, 1 teaspoon salt
- While the water is coming to a rolling boil, cut the zucchini into half lengthwise (12 halves).6 small zucchini
- With a spoon or butter knife, gently scoop out the pulp from each half. Set the scooped flesh aside (it will become part of the stuffing) and set the 12 courgette “boats” / halves aside.Make sure that you do not accidently poke holes in the skin of the zucchini while doing so. We want the boats to hold their shape and not be punctured.
- By this time the water in the pot should have begun to boil. Put the zucchini halves in the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes.Do not over cook the courgettes. They should be soft and slightly cooked at this stage. They will cook fully in the oven.
- Carefully take the zucchini halves out from the water and keep them aside to cool down a bit.
Get the oven ready
- Pre heat the oven to 400 F. Grease a baking tray with ½ teaspoon of oil and keep ready.½ teaspoon oil
Make the stuffing
- Take the paneer out of its wrapper and rinse it. Cut into large chunks and then crumble each chunk with your hands. Keep the crumbled paneer aside.You may, if you want a smoother texture, grate the paneer. However, I prefer to just crumble it with my fingers as, in this dish, I like the texture of crumbled paneer more than that of grated paneer.
- Chop the zucchini flesh (that you scooped out) finely – to match the size and texture of the crumbled paneer. Set it aside.
- Grate or finely mince the ginger. Keep aside.
- Squeeze out the juice from lime and keep ready.
- Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the zucchini pulp and fry for about 30 seconds.3 teaspoons neutral or vegetable oil, pulp from scooping the zucchini
- Add the salt and spices. Fry for another 30 seconds.1 inch piece fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper, 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the crumbled paneer. Mix well so that all the spices and flavors mix with each other evenly. Fry for 1 minute.1 block paneer
- Add the juice of lime and mix again. The stuffing is ready.3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Now let us assemble the “boats” and bake them
- Divide the stuffing into 12 parts. Spread each portion evenly on the courgette half.Make sure to keep all the stuffing inside the rim of the “boat” so that it does not spill. We do not want burnt bits of the filling!
- Place the stuffed zucchini in the greased baking dish and bake it in the pre heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the zucchini are cooked through and the filling top starts to become brown. Keep an eye and make sure that the tops do not burn. Paneer is a delicate cheese and can burn in matter of seconds.
- Turn the oven off and let the zucchini boats rest in the hot oven for 5 minutes.
- Serve these delicious stuffed zucchini boats on a bed of tomato sauce, topped with cubed colorful peppers and with some herbed salsa or chimichurri. Enjoy!colorful cubed sweet peppers, tomato sauce, chimichurri sauce / herbed salsa
- Which zucchini to use?: I have used the smaller, light green variety. You may use the longer, darker green ones. Just bear in mind that you will either have to increase the quantity of the stuffing than what is mentioned in this recipe.
- Paneer: Use fresh paneer. You can either grate it or crumble it with your fingers.
- Want to make it vegan?: Just replace the paneer with tofu or vegan cottage cheese. Voila!
- Wish to add onion and garlic?: This recipe had no onion and no garlic. You can however add them if you like.